Even when we’re not at work we’re on the clock–a biological one that is. Feeling bloated? Chronically fatigued? Messing up one of your “body clocks” is like a violinist playing a different tune than the rest of the orchestra—disastrous to the overall performance, and in the body it’s disastrous to long-term health.
In their new book, Strong Medicine (DragonDoor Publications, April 2015) Dr. Chris Hardy, D.O. and Marty Gallagher break down our body’s “master clock” to explain which parts are working to their maximum degree at which times in the day.
Where exactly are our master clocks are ticking from?
What are the “9 body clocks”?
- The adrenal gland’s clock helps maintain the timed secretion of cortisol in the early morning to prepare for activity by increasing glucose release from the liver. It reduces cortisol levels in the evening and through the night to promote rest and regeneration.
The heart clock helps prepare the heart for daytime by making it more responsive to the demands of physical activity with heart rate and strength of contraction. At night, the clock allows the heart to be less responsive during sleep.
- The liver clock helps control the “glucose banker” so that the liver can store glucose during daytime activity and meals, then release and make glucose at night during fasting to supply the brain.
- The pancreas clock sets insulin secretion at the highest during daytime activity to allow for energy storage. At night, insulin secretion is set low to ensure the brain receives a steady supply of glucose for regeneration.
- The fat clock controls the release of the hormones adiponectin and leptin. Adiponectin is higher during daytime activity to increase insulin sensitivity, allowing the storage of nutrients. Leptin is higher at night, delivering the “stop eating” signal necessary for fasting during regeneration.
- The muscle clock helps prepare our muscles for optimum performance during the day. The clock sets a metabolic rhythm, making it easier for muscle to burn glucose during the day, then using fat for energy at night.
- The immune clock has the immune system on alert for threats such as bacteria and viruses in the daytime, then at night the adaptive assassins create “immune memories” for the threats encountered during the day.
- The kidney clock helps control fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. To support daytime activity, blood pressure is increased, then at night there’s a 10-20% drop in blood pressure during regeneration.
- The gut clock regulates gastrointestinal function to increase digestion, absorption of food, and motility (movement of digested food) during the day. It signals for repair of the gut lining at night when digestive processes are minimized.
At what time of day are our “body clocks” most effective? When is our “Immune Clock” fighting bacteria and viruses most effectively? When is our Adipose (fat) Clock signaling our bodies to store the most nutrients?
During daylight hours, hormone levels are controlled by the master clock in the hypothalamus to support increase physical activity. During the onset of night, hormone levels are controlled by the master clock in the hypothalamus to support repair and regeneration. The immune system works the best during the day to fight off bacteria and viruses directly and then generates “memory” immune cells at night (T-cells and B-cells) to promote future immunity to specific pathogens encountered during the day. The fat clock controls the release of the hormones adiponectin and leptin. Adiponectin is higher during daytime activity to increase insulin sensitivity, allowing the storage of nutrients. Leptin is higher at night, delivering the “stop eating” signal necessary for fasting during regeneration.
Why having a desynchronized body clock can lead to chronic illness– and how to reverse the chronic consequences.
About Chris Hardy, D.O.:Dr. Chris Hardy merges his expertise in nutrition, strength and conditioning, and in clinical and preventive medicine into a comprehensive approach to treat chronic disease. With 13 years active military service in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, he is a graduate of the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center and Underwater Construction Basic Course and served as a military deep-sea diver. He left the military the first time after four years of service to start his higher education. He earned a bachelor of science in biochemistry from Old Dominion University and went on to WVSOM in Lewisburg WV, graduating as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. After med school, Hardy reentered the military as a Navy physician, serving as medical officer aboard the USS WASP (LHD-1) and joined the ship on deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He then served another operational tour as a medical officer before attending Johns Hopkins University for medical specialty training.About Marty Gallagher:Three-time World Master Powerlifting Champion, Teenage National Olympic Lift Champion, Marty Gallagher coached Black s Gym to four National team titles and in 1991 coached the United States squad to victory at the World Powerlifting Championships. Gallagher’s highly-acclaimed 230+ weekly Live Online columns for Washington Post.com created a legion of followers for his Purposefully Primitive Fitness philosophy. Over the last thirty years he has had over 1,000 articles appear in two dozen fitness publications.